|Stay Away From Loud Noises|
One of the jobs which the Alpha Battery FDC performed occasionally was to position the gun(s) on a firing azimuth or firing direction. In artillery terms this process was known as “laying”. In order to accomplish this task, the gun was pointed roughly in the direction of lay; then the Panoramic Sight of the gun was calibrated to the exact firing azimuth using an Aiming Circle (which is a precision survey instrument) and a Constant Reference Line or Constant Reference Point. The job of an FDC Crewman in this process was to operate the Aiming Circle and either actually lay the gun or to check and verify the gun was laid on the correct firing azimuth.
In order to lay the guns of Alpha Battery on all possible firing azimuths, several Aiming Circle positions (Aiming Points) were located within the Firing Battery Area. Telephone wires were also located at each of these positions in order for a Field Telephone to be used during the laying process. Of these positions, I did not like to use two of them. One of these was adjacent to the interior perimeter wire in the vicinity of Gun Section Number Four and was on a raised platform. The other was located on tower in the vicinity of the Ammo Section Personnel Bunker.
One night in September of 1969, an Officer and I were laying a gun using the aiming point by the Ammo Section Personnel Bunker. When we finished the procedure, the gun received a “standby” from the Fire Direction Center. We both commented that the gun we had just finished laying would be firing directly over that particular aiming point. As we starting to leave, the Field Telephone at the point rang and the Fire Direction Center instructed us to re-lay another gun. Naturally, the only aiming point we could use to lay the gun on the firing azimuth requested was the one where we were located. I told the Officer that I had bad vibes about using an aiming point with a gun on standby and its muzzle pointing directly at me. The Officer concurred with me. As the situation developed, our fears were well founded.
We were about halfway through the procedure of re-laying the second gun; when the gun we had finished laying, prepared to fire. I covered my ears as best I could, but my efforts were not nearly adequate enough. WHAM, the gun fired! My ears immediately began to ring. The Officer on the tower with me experienced the same sensation that I did. We continued laying the second gun and noted that it also would be firing over the Aiming Point. WHAM, the gun fired again across the Aiming Point with the same results. We finished laying the second gun and I disassembled the Aiming Point in rapid order, so as we could get the Hell off the tower. The Officer and I had just reached the top step of the stairs, when WHAM, the second gun that we had laid fired directly over the point. Again the same result. An eternity seemed to pass before we could get down the stairs and away from that tower.
I finished my FDC shift; ate breakfast and went to the FDC Personnel Bunker for a few hours sleep before my next duty. I awoke later, with a terrible “ringing” in my ears. I went to the Aid Station to get my ears checked-out by a Medic. The Doctor on duty examined my ears and gave me some medicine to place in them. Then the Doctor made the most ironic statement I was to hear during my tour with the 6/27th Artillery in Vietnam. He said, “Stay away from loud noises for at least a week.” I thought to myself, “In an Artillery battery, Doc?”
Nevertheless, I did as the Doctor ordered. I did stay away from loud noises for at least a week. In other words, I did not have to use the tower by the Ammo Section Personnel Bunker to lay a gun for the entire week following.
I returned to the Aid Station a week later and the Doctor said that my ears were healing. However, the “ring” from that night remains to this day. It continues to be just a little souvenir that I brought home from Quan Loi.